DEPARTING Wagga trainer Maddy Collins bid the region farewell a winner on Christmas Eve.
Saddling up her last two runners as a Wagga trainer, Collins was brought to tears when Bangalee Mist ($4.60) captured the Iron Jack Maiden Plate (1400m) at just her second start.
There was a few anxious moments before Richard Bensley finally saw daylight on the mare and she hit the line hard along the inside to score.
Collins is off to Melbourne to join her partner Josh Richards and was overwhelmed by emotion as Bangalee Mist ensured she went out a winner.
"I think it's the hormones and the fact she's leaving me," Collins said with a smile.
"I'm really happy, I'm stoked for the owners. She's always shown a lot of ability and we got the result today.
"It's fantastic. I've always had a high opinion of her and I'm sure Donna (Scott) will have a lot of fun with her."
Collins and Richards are expecting a baby boy in March. She will only be taking two horses with her to Melbourne so Bangalee Mist is now off to Donna Scott at Albury.
After a third placing on debut, Bangalee Mist again showed a good turn of foot as she downed Ahzeezah ($31) and Bubbler ($9.00)
Collins' second runner, Let's Get Animal, also gave a big sight to run fourth behind Demanding Mo ($3.90) in the William Farrer Hotel Benchmark 58 Handicap (1400m).
It was a good day for Wagga trainers, with Demanding Mo scoring at his third start for Graham Byatt.
It was the five-year-old's first win since his Albury Guineas triumph in March 2020.
Wagga trainer Chris Heywood also brought in Christmas on a winning note as Pillar Of Strength took out the Lambpro Benchmark 66 Handicap (2000m), a heat of the Wagga Stayers Series.
At start number 15, it was the first time Heywood had got Pillar Of Strength out to the 2000m trip and a nice Amy McLucas ride helped the grey fly home along the inside to win.
"He's a very nice horse. I've always had a lot of time for this bloke," Heywood said.
"I've been waiting to get him out to the 2000 metres and he'll get further again. He'll stay all day.
"He's a very nice horse in the making."
Pillar Of Strength ($16) downed $2.25 favourite Foxtrot Bravo by three quarters of a length, with Vintage Diesel ($11) third.
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